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U.S. Soldiers training Iraqi troops

By Spc. Matthew Webster

CAMP TAJI, Iraq (Army News Service, March 18, 2005) - Field Artillery Soldiers from the 1st Armored Division are teaching Iraqi troops the skills they will need to secure an area of northwest Baghdad.

At Hawk Base, near Camp Taji, a cadre of Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 1st FA's Alpha and Bravo companies are conducting a two-week program of instruction for Iraqis.

The training includes skills like patrolling, reacting to contact, casualty evacuation, and basic soldiering, said Capt. Daniel Getchel a 4-1 FA officer.

Then, the Iraqi troops move on to squad-level tasks, and finally work on training at the company level.

Cadre: Iraqis highly motivated

The cadre tries to instill discipline in the troops, but Getchel said instructors don't need to spend much time motivating them.

"I've seen an increase in esprit de corps, morale and motivation," he said. "We've had Iraqi soldiers who have been wounded in combat come back for training"

He has also seen an increase in the amount of equipment available to the troops, who are now issued uniforms, physical training clothes, running shoes and two pairs of boots.

The Iraqis break in those new boots on the training lanes at Hawk Base.

Lanes training includes squad FTX

On one of the lanes, the American trainers supervised as an Iraqi army squad cleared a group of buildings of other Iraqi soldiers posing as insurgents. The cadre acted as observer-controllers and let the Iraqis test their skills.

"We're in more of an evaluative role," Getchel said.

"This is a squad (situational training exercise)," said 1st Lt. John Sackman from Boise, Idaho, an Alpha Company trainer.

Like many cadre members, Sackman is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom 1.

He worked as a civil affairs officer and thinks his experience with the Iraqi culture has helped him train Iraqi troops and officers.

Initiative a training goal

"I've had lunch meetings with them (Iraqi officers) and introduced new teaching methods," he said.

Sackman underscored one his main training goals.

"We're trying to teach initiative down to the lowest levels," he said.

Iraqis do American-style AAR

After the exercise, Sackman gathered the cadre and troops together to discuss successes and focus areas as part of an American-style after-action report.

"This terrain was chosen because it is difficult. You are making definite progress," he told the soldiers.

"Keep on moving with a sense of purpose," Banks added. "You're doing a good job."

As the Iraqi troops formed up to march back to their barracks, Getchel summed up his thoughts about the partnership.

`Great effort = great troops'

"If we put out great effort, these can be great troops," he said. "If they know what the mission is, and they've rehearsed it, they can execute. They're some of the bravest people I've met."

Lt. Col. Sabah Kadhem, commander of the 307th Battalion of the Iraqi army, agrees.

"They are now ready for any mission," Kadhem said. "My soldiers are very happy when they catch an insurgent because they are helping the future of Iraq."

For the rest of the year, the Soldiers of 4-1 FA will be at Hawk Base to teach them how.

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